Recreating the Restaurant: Brussels Sprouts

Most kids hate Brussels sprouts. I probably didn’t mind them when I was little, since my only memory of them is of the cheese-covered variety. But as we get older, our tastes change, and I discovered how much I love these little cabbage-like bites when cooked in bacon fat and red chili flakes.

An excellent rendition of that can be found at Tin Room Bistro in Manhattan Beach, perfectly situated about a mile from my office – just far enough to drive, just close enough to become an addiction. These sprouts are tossed with lemon, butter, garlic, capers, and bits of anchovy, hitting all the taste points with serious umami on top.

However, anchovies aren’t really my thing when cooking at home, and I’m definitely not going to waste a whole quart of cooking oil on deep-frying sprouts, so I had to figure out a solution if I wanted to appease my craving for these babies when making dinner.

I started simply: halving Brussels sprouts and putting them under the grate while roasting a chicken. Tossed with minced garlic, and soaking up all the juices from the chicken drippings, they turned out pretty well.

They never quite got the crispness I was looking for, though, so I tried sautéing them, and that just turned them mushy.

Well, I’ve finally found the solution: par-boiling them in lemon water, then broiling, then tossing in all the flavor-ific goodness. Et voila! Perfectly crisp Brussels sprouts that are so good, you may not need anything but a glass of wine on the side.

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1 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts
Juice of one lemon
3 tbsp. melted butter (or butter substitute if you’re going vegan)
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 tsp. chili flakes
1 tbsp. balsamic or sherry vinegar

1. Get a pot of water boiling, adding half the juice of a lemon. While that’s heating up, halve all the medium to large Brussels sprouts.
2. Turn on broiler to high. Par-boil sprouts for five minutes. Drain immediately.
3. Arrange sprouts on a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet that will fit under your broiler. Sprinkle with garlic.
4. Broil for three minutes, remove pan from heat, turn sprouts over, broil for another three minutes, or until just starting to char on the edges. Remove from broiler.
5. Toss Brussels sprouts and garlic in butter, the rest of the lemon juice and chili flakes. Sprinkle vinegar over the top, and serve.

Serves 2-4 (or just one, if you’re like me and can make a meal out of these things).

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